I'm thinking that what everyone seems to missing here is the point the good gentleman from Conyers brought up right at the very beginning of this thread (which probably should be moved over to its own place somewhere in the Non-Bourbons section).
And that is that, while there are an infinite variety of delicious vattings of straight bourbon (or rye) whiskies available (all but about six of which I believe Gary may have already experimented with at some point or another), the ingredient that gave it back a certain flavor that they all seem to otherwise lack was his (meaning Mike's) addition of enough malt whiskey to alter the proportions significantly. Gary then reinforced that idea by noting that malted barley once played a much larger role in rye and (probably) bourbon mashes than it does today. Could, implied Gary, THAT be the source of the illusive "old-style" whiskey taste that seemed to have disappeared about ¾ of the way through the 20th century? Well, maybe; it certainly makes sense to me.
And then I read a fascinating article by Dave Broom on his own blog, and another in the current Whisky Advocate, that spoke of "Paxerette", essentially a way of treating Scotch whisky barrels so as to impart an "aged sherry" flavor that was extremely common (perhaps universal) in single-malt scotches until 1989, when the SWA halted its use. There are some who say that Scotch has never tasted quite the same since. Of those, many feel that to be an improvement; others feel the "old-style" character is one reason why 23+ year old Scotch is worth the ridiculous prices folks are willing to pay for it.
For my own part, I find that the year of change, 1989, corresponds very nicely with the time frame during which the character of American bourbon also metamorphosed into it's more modern form. And also during which the American rye industry virtually vanished entirely, to be resurrected only recently, and then by the familiar Kentucky-ized version that bear but scant resemblance to the Monongahela or Maryland ryes of old.
The ingredients for straight whiskey, whether bourbon, rye, malt, or any mixture thereof, are quite clearly specified in the Code of Regulations. But just what constitutes a "new, charred oak container" is not. Nowhere does there appear to be an actual definition of "charred", nor is there any specific language that precludes the addition of -- well, anything you might dare to imagine -- to such a barrel prior to its being sold to a distillery as a "new" container; only that it wasn't used for storing whiskey before. The mind boggles at the idea of just what other changes may have occurred during the wonderful Reagan years of de-regulation that have irrevocably altered the way whiskey is made. Up until recently, very few of us realized that straight whiskey wasn't always barreled at 125 proof as it is today (that changed in 1962; it used to be 110 proof). The Code of Regulations changes often, and they don't make a big deal about publicizing those changes, especially when they diminish the flavor or allow cheaper production of the product.
And could such a wonderful beverage as American bourbon or rye even BE created today, provided it's producer (and advocates) would cast off the yoke of the word "straight bourbon", or "straight rye", or even "whiskey", and just proudly identify their product as a proprietary spirit drink, the way Cornelius Ampleworth already has (http://www.masterofmalt.com/barley-spirit/proprietary-barley-spirit-drink/
) with his version?
Just thoughts that go through my mind as I sip, side-by-side, two nearly indistinguishable glasses of a vatting similar (though not identical) to the one I described earlier, and an 8-year-old Old Overholt distilled in 1959 at Broad Ford, Pennsylvania.
So now, put THAT in your Glencairn and savor it!